Chronicle: Archaeology on Television | Excavations and reports from Sutton Hoo to Machu Picchu
CHANNEL | BBC 2
FIRST BROADCAST | 31 October 1970
DURATION | 47 minutes 52 seconds
Professor Alexander Thom puts forward his theory that Stonehenge and other megalithic sites were used to record time and predict solar and lunar eclipses. Magnus Magnusson looks at Thom's evidence and hears what different archaeologists think of the suggestion that Stone Age Britons could make such elaborate calculations. If Thom's theory is correct, previous archaeological certainties about the knowledge and ability of people in the Stone Age would be overturned.
Alexander Thom's book 'Megalithic Sites in Britain', published in 1967, caused huge controversy within academic archaeology. Thom's premise that Stone Age culture used complex mathematics and applied this to constructing monuments undermined the progressional idea of culture as continually advancing from savagery to civilisation. Glyn Daniel commissioned the eminent astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle to consider Thom's evidence for 'Archaeology' magazine. Hoyle found that Thom's theories were essentially accurate.
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